Equifax: Tampa Bay consumers whittle down debt by 4.1 percent

Published Nov. 9, 2012

Tampa Bay consumers are whittling away at their debt at a faster pace than most of the rest of the country, according to an analysis released Thursday by Equifax.

Consumers in metro Tampa had $94.7 billion in debt in the third quarter, down 4.1 percent from a year ago, the Atlanta-based credit monitoring bureau reported. Overall, consumer debt nationwide fell 2.3 percent to just under $11 trillion.

Among the largest 25 metro areas, total consumer debt continued to fall in all but three markets: Houston-Galveston, Pittsburgh and Dallas-Fort Worth. The regions where debt has fallen the fastest are among those hardest hit by the recession bust: Las Vegas, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Sacramento, Calif., and Phoenix. Orlando and Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater weren't far behind.

Equifax's report includes mortgage, auto, credit card, student loans and home equity loans in its debt tallies.

In general, home mortgage and credit card debts have been falling while auto is rising. But the dropoff in mortgage debt doesn't necessarily signal consumers are becoming more cautious in buying a home they can afford. "The high number of foreclosures means many consumers have reduced their debt involuntarily," Equifax said.